Skip to main content

Google Glass: Ergonomics, Performance, And Practicality, Tested

The Practicality Of Glass

Alright, so I’m fine with wearing a set of camera-equipped frames. Now what? So many Explorers have already professed their love for Glass, gushing that they won’t go another day without it.

How about a contrarian view? I see a world where Glass is ubiquitous. It easily becomes a primary hands-free interface with our smartphones. After all, even the Explorer Edition uses a combination of Bluetooth and tethered Wi-Fi to generate turn-by-turn directions, send dictated SMS messages, and place calls to any of 10 stored contacts. The thing is, I don’t need all of those functions every time I’m out. And I don’t snap a shot of every course I eat, either (though I do have to confess enjoyment in taking pictures of cars that cut me off in traffic as Glass’ reticles contract, target-acquired-style).

Video tends to be more situational. By default, Glass records 10 seconds at a time unless you tap, then tap again to Extend Video. Ten seconds is understandable given the impact on battery life. Admittedly, though, any arbitrary number makes it difficult to “time life.” More than once I started a recording in anticipation of an event, only to realize I’d be cut off before Glass could register my double-tap. I’m not sure there’s an easy solution to this.

At least for now, Glass’ place in my life is novel. It’s great for keeping your nose out of your phone, though the prism projector is really just a distraction in a different direction. In the animation below, you can see that both eyes look up to read the projected image, taking focus off of whatever is in front of you. Throughout the day, you’re going to put Glass on and then take it off when what you’re doing just isn’t relevant. And that’s where the funky form factor becomes unwieldy.

Enough cynicism, though. There are really awesome ways to use Glass, and I’m only two days in. Let’s say I’m in the lab, working on an upcoming platform review, and want to demonstrate to the Tom’s Hardware editors how to configure the latest version of our automated benchmark suite. I can “hang out with…” the staff, keep both hands free, and have them see what I’m doing from my perspective.

Or maybe, someday, I’m trying to teach my son Lucas how to ride a bike. I want to capture that moment. But I don’t want a smartphone in one hand and his handlebars in the other. Throw Glass on, interact with him naturally, and record it all. Glass is going to be a great way for parents to memorialize a lot of firsts without managing birthday parties, juggling Christmas presents, or trying to steady those first few steps while glancing over at a camera screen. This puts the moment in point-of-view, and it doesn’t create a spectator out of you. You remain a participant in life, and you get the tape when the action is over.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Benthon
    I'm personally excited to see where this takes off to. They just need to bring the price down and they have a new generation of product. Great review! It definitely was cute to see your kid walking around and getting him water/playing with him from his perspective.
  • blackmagnum
    Elitist geek tech. Making it illusive like Gmail beta. We can only watch and dream.
  • witcherx
    why not just make lens.. come on aliens...
    why give us outdated products...
  • CaptainTom
    This really is the future. It will just take the third generation or so before it becomes mainstream practical. Oh and I want the lenses to be screens themselves, that would be cyberpunk badass!
  • virtualban
    Why do you keep saying "Equivalent of a 25-inch HD screen from eight feet away"? The resolution, according to other sources, is not even 720p.
    You could say "Equivalent of a 16:9, 25-inch screen from eight feet away"
  • cats_Paw
    Considering the Privacy issues this will bring on the population, this product might be a big fail.

    I know if i had any form ob bussines, i would not allow my customers to be filmed there. That means, no google glass.
  • Vorador2
    cats_PawConsidering the Privacy issues this will bring on the population, this product might be a big fail.I know if i had any form ob bussines, i would not allow my customers to be filmed there. That means, no google glass.
    Privacy issues? The same than people with a phone. Nowadays anyone with a smartphone can take photos or record videos.

    The only thing it needs to do is to put a led than lights up when people take photos or make videos.
  • kettu
    "Take it from a dad, though: there’s something to be said for playing with your kid and recording it, rather than watching him run around, passively, through a smartphone camera (50 minutes of video at a time, that is)."

    I bet that recording everything gets real old real fast. What are you going to with thousands of hours of video? Show it to your friends? I bet they'll love every minute of it! :)
  • randomizer
    That is going to be shown at his 21st isn't it?
  • butremor
    I like this video showing how it looks like looking thoriugh a glass